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Working with ADHD? 1748

Famanoran asks: "I've recently been diagnosed ADHD ? and am now taking Ritalin. I've found that it helps me rather significantly, but I'm keen to try other things that may help. My question is to the ADHD'ers on slashdot: How have you coped with ADHD, and how have you found it affect your work performance? Do you object to having ADHD? Have you tried natural alternatives such as DPA/EPA (Omega3), 5-HTP (natural precursor to serotonin), and what were your results? Also - How do you find it working in groups of people, either as the only ADHD'er there, or in a group of ADHD'ers? Do you think that your ADHD contributes to your abilities technically, or is it a hinderance?" Previously, Ask Slashdot dealt with ADHD in children, now what suggestion do you have for the grown-ups, with the additional burden of a career, who find themselves in the same situation?
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Working with ADHD?

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  • Hmmm? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Repugnant_Shit ( 263651 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:00PM (#6229023)
    I keep reading something about ADH...whatever. Oh look! String!
    • Chemistry in ADHD (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @02:27AM (#6230664)
      Those affected with ADHD have a wide selection of medications to sort through, from those non amphetamine based (ala' stattera) to those which work instantly, or those that build up in the system, they all have their pro's and cons.

      The problem with the amphetamines is that being a schedule II drug it is had to find the doctor who is not hesitant at prescribing such, also you have at the start have a doctor appointment to have it refilled, after such you can probably get the doc just to write it where you can stop by and pick it up. Adderall - XR is adderall's time release based medication which can be negated by the crushing or chewing of capsules.

      It would be my preference to go with Adderall-XR as doctors see it as a less abuse able substance, and I've found it to be the best in increasing concentration and productivity, in a side note it offers a perk in euphoria, for those in a down mood and Iâ(TM)ve found Ritalin in different accounts to be "rough" on the system

      For fun from the prescribing PDF on Adderall Alkalinizing agentsâ"Gastrointestinal alkalinizing agents (sodium bicarbonate, etc.) increase absorption of Amphetamines. Co-administration of ADDERALL XRâ and gastrointestinal alkalinizing agents, such as antacids, should be avoided. Urinary alkalinizing agents (acetazolamide, some thiazides) increase the concentration of the non-ionized species of the amphetamine molecule, thereby decreasing urinary excretion. Both groups of agents increase blood levels and therefore potentiate the actions of amphetamines. TIME (HOURS)

      Also in the view of amphetamines it is nothing like those found on the street and sadly so as the meth found will undoubtedly bring you up, it seem to lack the focus of the combination of the amphetamines offered by Adderall. For those looking to the street for their fix Iâ(TM)d urge you to give up the expensive and non productive habit, Sleepless nights and worn out bodies, and talk yourself into some disease.

      Ritalin is the most popular. It is used mostly for treating children. Its generic form is methylphenidate or MPH. Studies have shown that MPH is up to 30% less effective than the brand name drug, Ritalin. It can cause tics in children. Those who take Ritalin do not develop tics. Ritalin begins to work within 20 minutes after you take it, and lasts up to 4 hours. An extended-release form of Ritalin, Ritalin SR, has been developed, but how long the drug lasts still varies among individuals. Class action lawsuits against the manufacturer of Ritalin, Novartis, have been dismissed in Texas and California. In both cases, the judges found that the plaintiffs had not shown sufficient evidence that Novartis conspired with psychiatrists to "overprescribe" Ritalin.

      Dexedrine is second most common to Ritalin in use for treating ADD. It is used mostly for treating adolescents and adults. The generic form of Dexedrine, dextroamphetamine sulfate, is considered inferior to the name brand, and not as long-lasting. Dexedrine begins to work 30 minutes after you take it, and lasts about an hour longer than Ritalin. Dexedrine is listed in the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) under "diet control" drugs; thus your insurance company may not cover it for treating ADD.

      Cylert is the third most common stimulant for treating ADD. The generic name of Cylert is pemoline, but no generic drug is available. Cylert begins to work an hour after you take it, and you must take the medication for 1-2 weeks before you feel the full therapeutic effect. You should not skip doses, or go off Cylert "cold turkey". Dosages are must be gradually increased and decreased by your doctor. Cylert is more expensive than Ritalin or Dexedrine, and has a higher incidence of side-effects, such as insomnia and appetite suppression. There is also a possibility of liver damage.

      Adderall, formerly Obetrol, is a newer stimulant, approved by the FDA in 1996. There is no generic. Adderall is a combination of Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine; its

      • Re:Chemistry in ADHD (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @10:40AM (#6233265)
        I was diagnosed ADD in 6th grade. (I'm 21 now) After starting to take Cylert, my math and science scores plummeted. Which was a terrible thing for me, since math and science was what I prided myself upon. I also began having outrageous migraines.

        I quit cold-turkey. In a glorious moment of defiance, I flushed the entire (very very expensive) bottle of mindsuppressor down the toilet.

        My opinion - ADD / ADHD is some scientists made-up excuse for my (our) brain running faster than his. The jellous bastard ought to be so lucky.

        I've learned to live with it, I've learned to avoid situations when I need to concentrate. I cope, I handle, and obviously, it's not that much of a problem. I often times think ADD actually helps my code.

        I've been drug-free since that moment when I told my parents they should take the *ucking medicine and see how they like it -- then proceeded to dump the entire bottle. Quitting cold turkey didn't give me any side effects -- at least none that were worse than the stuff that damn drug did to me.

        The best part was -- I could think again.

        P.S. After quitting cylert, my math grade - which had gone from a 99% A the first two nine-weeks to a 68% (near failing) the third nine-weeks - went right back up to a 99%, and suddenly, everything made sense again.

        To that jellous asshole of a 'doctor' that put me on that stuff, I salute you with one finger.

    • by smithy242 ( 682463 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @02:49AM (#6230754)
      I felt a personal need to reply to this posting, as it mentions many things I have tweaked within the last six months. Throughout my life, most of my symptoms persisted of bouts of hyperactivity per day including super-human concentration, followed by huge crashes and lapses of concentration, and the complete ability to think, with extreme anxiety thrown into the equation. Just within the last year have I fully noticed the mood swings, and how low I could get in the winter months, being in Canada around Toronto area -- similar in geographic location to Detroit and Buffalo.

      1998 - added the minor things, like multi-vitamin, extra B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, this was about 4 years ago, and these additions just barely helped me cope. Sleep was still a great issue, with it normally taking two hours to go to sleep at night
      1999 - added melatonin to the mix, nightly took 3mg, switched jobs, quit working at a systems integrator (tech work, systems and network support on the road) to join a chain of long-term care homes as their regional technical support
      Fall 2001 - started seeing a "naturopath", drastically changed diet, followed "Blood Type Diet", recommended from the book "Eat Right for Your Type", amazing results, super high energy (probably a manic episode), but still the anxiety and sleeping issues persisted, added Alpha Lipoic Acid to assist the liver and as a potent antioxidant
      Winter 2001 - added 5-HTP, fairly high doses, around 500mg per day
      Spring 2002 - cut down on the 5-HTP, limited it to 200mg per day, added Piracetam, thinking clearer than ever
      March 2002 - went to a corporate conference, ate all of those sweets and stuff that they give you that weren't on my diet, experienced the worst brain fog in my life, saw my chiropractor the next day for an adjustment, got in a conversation about feeling "fogged out", he suggested CLA, amazing results, eliminated the fog!
      Summer 2002 - cut down 5-HTP to 150mg per day, added L-Tyrosine to the mix, it gave me more of my personality back, strongly recommended over stimulants, as it helps long-term even after cessation of usage
      Fall 2002 - blood type diet slips really hard, the 5 pints a day are getting in the way of it. . . at this point, not taking any 5-HTP or melatonin, flying really high, going out all of the time, getting 4 - 6 hours sleep per night, have never thought clearer in my life. Started further extensive reading on 5-HTP, Tyrosine, mood disorders, ADD / ADHD, bipolar, etc., had inklings I was cyclothymic, a mild version of bipolar disorder
      December 2002 - had been going downhill for the last bit of November, honestly thought there was a more serious problem, anxiety flared up again, saw a doctor, started on Paxil at 10mg per day, zapped all of the life out of me, dropped it down to 5mg per day, ceased taking 5-HTP due to concerns of potential serotinin syndrome or overload with SSRI
      Christmas 2002 - crashed out completely, nasty family Christmas sucked all of the life out of me, I had been going downhill for the month of December
      Mid January 2003 - Paxil was not performing for the depression, I had since stopped taking anything to change mood, such as Tyrosine, 5-HTP, started on 750mg per day of Depakote/Epival, took a real edge off, minimized long-term mood swings and mood / energy level changes in the day
      February 2003 - the first doctor didn't agree I should be on Paxil, as it didn't address the attention symptoms, so he cut it out, and added Effexor SR in it's place, an SSNRI (Selective Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor) at 37.5 per day for a week, and then 75mg for three weeks
      Late February 2003 - feeling so flatlined it's not even funny, no desire for anything remotely social, have been at home now for two weeks straight not moving off the couch, getting up only when desperately needed for work, not returning any phone messages, voice mail box full!
      March 2003 - recontinued the Paxil at 5mg, much more personality back, sold my house, moved back in with my parents (lovely...
      • by Kedyn's Crow ( 566552 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @04:56AM (#6231217) Homepage
        A little while ago a fellow named "MichaelCrawford" posted a three part article on Kuro5hin describing his experiences with Schizoaffective Disorder. Some of the symptoms he desribed and some of the lengthes he went to treat them were similer to yours. Anyway here's that article. [] I hope you find that helpful.
      • I have been coping with depression and mood swings, although I had serious problems with intermittent hyperactivity in high school, which I "grew out of". I am now 25 and still have difficulty with mood, etc. Heavy drug use complicated things as well.

        In January 2002 my depression was at its worst and I decided to start doing more research into brain chemistry and try to start making some positive decisions. At this point I started refining various regimens similar to what you have been taking.

        The mo
  • Me too! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:03PM (#6229048)
    I have it - diagnosed >10 years ago. STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM RITALIN! Tell the doctor you want Wellbutrin - it works better and has far fewer side effects. As far as working with it - good luck. If you are anything like me, good luck holding a job. I get bored quickly. This is necessarily a bad thing. I have very valuable skills and have no problems finding jobs.
    • Re:Me too! (Score:5, Informative)

      by billatq ( 544019 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:06PM (#6229093)

      Tell the doctor you want Wellbutrin - it works better and has far fewer side effects.

      It varies by person, as everyone has a different body chemistry. You might find yourself with uncontrollable shaking, cold sweats, loss of balance, and a number of annoying side effects if it doesn't work for you. (It didn't for me)

      • by The_Dougster ( 308194 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:45PM (#6229510) Homepage
        I tried it once (as Zyban) in an attempt to quit smoking. It takes a few weeks to build up in your system. So about two weeks after I started I suddenly developed severe hives (large extremely itchy red patches all over your body) and my chest got kind of tight -- hard to breathe. I went to the emergency room for a shot of Epinephrin which worked for about a day, and then the hives were back in spades. I popped Benadryl like it was candy for the two weeks it took for the Wellbutrin to get out of my system. It was a horrible experience. They say 5% develop severe allergic reactions like I did. YMMV.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:11PM (#6229152)
      I've found a potential solution that doesn't involve taking all these crazy medicines. When I find that I have difficulty concentrating, I just go off and furiously masturbate like a banshee. 5 minutes later I could concentrate on a Ben Stein law lecture.
    • Ritalin=Sleepytime (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phorm ( 591458 )
      While it seems to work well for those who are truly strong ADHD sufferers, nowadays doctors have a strong tendency towards quickly diagnosing people/children and prescribing various medications. Ritalin is a favorite, and not always the best choice.

      In my younger days, I had a slight tendency towards distraction. I wasn't bouncing off the walls, nor did it actually distract me from work, but I was prescribed ritalin. Rather than improving my condition, ritalin sapped my energy and left my a basketcase thro
    • The opposite? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SHEENmaster ( 581283 )
      Is there an opposite of the disorder? I absorb massive quantities of caffeine without getting hyper, and I can code for days on a single project with just the occasional break for more caffeine or food.

      On another note: I am the only person I know who has not been diagnosed with having ADD or ADHD. What percentage of those tested come up positive?

      "Major League Baseball is using satellites to read your pocket organizer for more ad revenue! Only a tin foil hat will save you!", Bart Simpson on Focusin
    • Re:Me too! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pyros ( 61399 )
      Wellbutrin gave me chest pains, and my writing got bigger. The only thing that worked for me was Adderol, the controlled release ones. Even that only helped for extended reading.

      I've found that just knowing I have ADHD was enough to straighten out most things. I've just accepted it and am thus better able to schedule my tasks. I know I'm going to get bored 5 hours into something, so I try to keep 3-5 things on my plate so I can hop around. Reading just puts me to sleep though. I've considered using drugs a
    • Re:Me too! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by coolgeek ( 140561 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:40PM (#6229464) Homepage
      This is the first serious thread posted, so here goes. You may or may not need Ritalin; AMA docs just toss it at you because they are programmed to dispense pills. Get books from Thom Hartmann []. I am not affiliated with Mr. Hartmann, I listened to an edition of The Aware Show on my local free-commie radio station, that he was on. I have found his books to be helpful. They helped me get a perspective on my hunter-uniqueness (compared to those descended from agriculturally based societies), that I can live with. It is not a disorder nor does it place me at a deficit. We are easily distracted unless properly challenged, and capable of focusing on a "real" challenge, come hell or high water, until the hunt is through. We make good leaders, as well as team members, once we recognize what we are capable of, and what we need others to do for us, to help us succeed.

      My other suggestion is to get a Digital Voice Recorder. Make notes to self and listen to them while walking around. This helps me crunch the more mundane tasks by making it into a challenge: how to do x more efficiently because I'm on my way to this or that place.

    • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @01:54AM (#6230467) Journal
      It's your head. When you were a kid, your parents felt responsible for you, and doctors and teachers felt smarter than you, and some of them wanted to help you or whatever, but unless you were a really rare kid or had really good parents, they were in control of the medical aspect and you mostly weren't. You're not a kid now, and you're as smart as your doctors, and though they know more about medicine, and can give you some outside perspective, they're not inside your head, and they don't have to live there, and you are and you do.

      So if you want to try meds to help you get along better in life, work with the doctor on them, but remember that you're in charge, and if that's not how your doctor wants to work, get another doctor. If Ritalin isn't doing it for you, and something else might, you and your doctor can experiment. (And of course that's for most other kinds of medicine besides ADHD as well.) Maybe Wellbutrin works for you (some people absolutely hate it!), maybe Dexedrine or other traditional amphetamines do (my niece's doctor had her on Dex in high school), maybe caffeine and/or exercise breaks work better. (Remember how schools dealt with energetic kids before Ritalin? Recess twice a day plus gym class, and sometimes actually paying individual attention to the kids...)

      The big caveat with a lot of these drugs is that they are messing with your head, and everybody's reaction is somewhat different. If you find yourself getting wacked out or strung out, it's time to get attention quickly, because taking mind-altering drugs that aren't a good match for you can really mess you up, and the reason you're taking them is to help you cope better, not worse. Lots of people I know do anti-depressants, and some do manic-depressive drugs, and sometimes they find that after a while life just sucks, or that it doesn't suck badly but it just isn't any fun either, or that everything's fine and normal most of the time with occasional interruptions of suicidal depression or psychotic anger, which is not something you want to leave alone...

  • by billatq ( 544019 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:04PM (#6229064)
    I haven't really had a problem with ADHD, even though I get distracted easily sometimes. I think coffee seems to help a lot, though that's just me. I never took ritalin, but I was on Adderall for a while (it's similar to ritalin, though not quite the same). I really disliked taking it though, because I felt really odd, lost my appetite and had frequent headaches. I honestly think that it's hyped to be a larger problem than it really is.
    • It's worth noting that (at least according to the Jargon File []) caffeine bonds to the same neural receptors as Ritalin. That may or may not have something to do with why coffee helps soothe your ADHD.
      • Receptor Myths (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @12:30AM (#6229851) Homepage Journal
        You read a lot about how drug X causes the brain to Y because it binds to receptor Z. The sad fact is that this is mostly crap. Nobody really understands exactly how most psychoactive drugs work. The politics of medicine requires that doctors talk about their therapies in absolute terms. But from a scientific point of view, they're guilty of a large degree of bullshit.

        Which is not to say that biological psychiatrists don't actually help people. I myself have gotten a lot of good use out of them. But only after wasting a lot of time on blind alleys. It's taken them a long time for them to understand that people don't fit into the neat little models and categories that medicine likes to use. Only now are they beginning to understand how much empiricism there is in their art.

        Now, whatever the chemical similarities between Ritalin and caffeine (and I don't think Eric Raymond is a reliable source for anything except his own pet theories) not everybody has a a similar response to these two drugs. I myself find R helpful for controlling the symptoms of ADHD, and coffee not at all. On the other hand I get a pleasant buzz from a cup of strong coffee, but no direct change of mood from Ritalin at all. (That's very atypical -- took my psychiatrist a long time to accept that I was being honest with him.) Bottom line: every body (pun intentional) is differnt. You use what works.

    • Important question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 ( 162816 )
      If you "haven't really had a problem", WTF were you on Adderal in the first place?
    • by Benley ( 102665 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @12:33AM (#6229866) Journal
      I honestly think that it's hyped to be a larger problem than it really is.

      Quite frankly, you're right.
      I think that the real issue you're talking about isn't the overdiagnosis of ADD, but actually the overprescription of Ritalin. I mean really... like half of the kids in my 4th grade class were on Ritalin. Even back then I knew it was ridiculous. For some people, it really is a problem, and it really sucks. I've known many people growing up who supposedly had adhd, and I think that many of them were just morons. However, SOME of them really do have ADD, myself included.

      In my case, I wasn't really diagnosed until I was about 20, and at that point I realised how obvious it was all along, and I just hadn't realised what was going on. Anyway, my point is that for the folks who really do have ADD, it can be extremely frustrating to get along as a normal human being - simply because you seem for all the world like a normal human being, except that you can't get a damn thing done when you're supposed to, and at other times you're so productive it's like you are a different person. I've spent 10 years of my life trying to become that "different person" more often, because when I actually start cranking work out, I can work *FAST*. What totally sucks is that I have never figured out how to do it. I've tried ritalin on and off, and it sorta does help, but I can never remember to take the damn thing, and I dislike the side effects - particularly that it affects my creativity. Taking a pill which squashes your creativity _sucks_. I really should try something else I guess, since I've got to make some changes to myself before I go back to school (got kicked out after seven semesters of bouncing between majors and programs looking for something I could do productively).

      *sigh* I guess my point is to cut people some slack when they talk about ADD/ADHD being a real thing.

      • by CaptCook ( 100270 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @11:07AM (#6233570)
        I've tried ritalin on and off, and it sorta does help, but I can never remember to take the damn thing, and I dislike the side effects - particularly that it affects my creativity. Taking a pill which squashes your creativity _sucks_.

        I had the same problem on Adderall (spelling?). It worked wonders for my career. I used it for about a year and got promotions and bonuses and was a hero at the office...BUT, I ended up with zero creativity. I was no fun to be around. I didn't even want to be a consumer of creativity (stopped reading novels, watching movies, playing games, etc). I was also sleeping about 2-3 hours a night and constantly going full bore. I was burning myself out something fierce.

        Finally my girlfriend of 6 years intervened. She talked to someone at the office, the office forced me to take a week's vacation, the gf convinced me to lay off the Adderall for that week, and it was like I woke up from a nightmare. I had no idea who I'd been for the past year.

        So now I take nothing, but I'm in danger of being axed from the job as I can't seem to get anything done. I fritter around and procrastinate and make lists and have really good intentions, but never actually work. Which in turn makes me depressed and down on myself.

        I wish I could find someplace in the middle of those two extremes, y'know?
    • There is a beautiful course that certainly has HELPED and/or cured alot of people suffering from various mental illnesses, ranging from depression, autism, ADHD to criminality and suicidal tendencies. It is called the Art of Living course, which features a unique breathing-technique called the Sudarshan Kriya. It has been researched and tested in medical studies conducted in India, the findings proving that it actually helps people.

      Follow the link in my sig if you're interested. Or click on this one to rea
  • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:07PM (#6229098)
    I have found that ADHD makes me more creative than most people but that it also makes me a much poorer student, I had a half ride scholarship to one of the top comp sci schools in the country and was placed on academic probation in under a year despite having a 3.8 in my major, I found I just wasn't able to study for the classes that didn't hold my interest. The great thing is that my job really does hold my interest and so I am able to focus my manic energy towards getting stuff done, but the sepurfelous things like paperwork and stuff tend to fall by the wayside until my boss gets on me to get em done. As for coping with it I mostly have tried a balanced diet rich in dark vegtables and have tried to wein myself off of caffeine (I used to drink a 2 liter of Mt. Dew during an 8 hour shift).
    • Re:Well (Score:3, Funny)

      by jpetts ( 208163 )
      and have tried to wein myself off of caffeine

      Does that make you a weiner?
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by msheppard ( 150231 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:28PM (#6229347) Homepage Journal
      despite having a 3.8 in my major

      This was the problem I had, the whole "in my major" thing. I was acing the tech stuff (CompSci, Chem, Math) but couldn't keep my eyes open for anything remotely liberal-arts-ish. My advice is realize you HAVE TO PASS THIS STUFF to keep your ride and get your sheep-skin, so just hunker down and do it. Easy to say.

      I've found that latley I've starte to appriciate the crap they wanted to jam down my throat. I never read a single word of Mark Twain when I was 18yr old, but now I have his complete works on my Palm and read it whenever I have a spare moment, and really really enjoy it! _Conneticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court_ is just amazing. I was %100 sci-fi pre work-force, but now I really love the classic-lit stuff. Maybe we need to try to recognize this in our students and nurture it more appropriatly.

      Oh! A butterfly!

    • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      [I] was placed on academic probation in under a year despite having a 3.8 in my major

      3.8 in under a year? That Intro to CS class must have been really tough.

      No offense intended to sufferers of ADD/ADHD, but falling asleep during spanish class, church, family reunions, etc., isn't exclusive to the disorder. Anyone can stay focused on something that he/she is interested in (sex comes to mind). Staying focused on something that you don't enjoy is called self-discipline.
  • by Myriad ( 89793 ) <myriad.thebsod@com> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:07PM (#6229107) Homepage
    IANADr but I'd venture to say that getting medical advice from Slashdot would be about as wise as asking SCO for Legal advice.

    Blockwars []:go play!

  • Bad medicine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ahkbarr ( 259594 ) * on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:08PM (#6229116)
    ADHD is a often bad diagnosis. It's like saying "My kid is too kid-like." I'll explain...

    I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child because I could not pay attention in class. The real issue was I had/have a hearing disorder that makes it very difficult for me to zero in on specific sounds and tune others out.

    This bogus diagnosis led to improper treatment. Sure, the drugs helped, but the underlying problem was not addressed, and I did not reach my full potential.

    Do not trust western medicine like it's never wrong.
  • by deadsaijinx* ( 637410 ) <> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:09PM (#6229129) Homepage
    Hmm, well. As someone who's also been diagnosed with ADHD, I have found that the most effective treatment is just to get outside in the fresh air and get a bit of excersize every day. Of course, in our current culture of instant gratification and having both parents working, we have come to a point where parents aren't willing to take the time to find a better alternative than to drug their child. Personally it sickens me. I knew this one family that put their 5 y.o. child on Ritalin. I ask you, what 5y.o. isn't hyperactive? And what kind of parent drugs their 5 y.o. kid for being a bit rambuncious?

    I myself only took Ritalin a few times, and I hated the way it affected me. As such, I don't take perscription drugs (not that I don't do other drugs, but that's another topic). No, for me the simplest thing to do was go outside and and run a few laps.

    Okay, now for the history of ADHD. Recent studies beleive that ADHD was a genetic defect that prooved useful for attracting mates, as the higher levels of activity exhibited by the ADHD addled individual was a sign of better health and strength.

    So, if the ADHD is getting in your way, then you should seek treatment. But a lot of people take Ritalin when it isn't neccesary. And watch out for dependencies. I knew a kid who no longer needed it, but he continued to take it because he claimed he could function without it. Ritalin is a mind altering drug, and people today don't give it enough respect.

    Anyway, how many posts are we gonna get reffering to Focusyns from the Simpsons?
    • by big tex ( 15917 ) <> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:23PM (#6229288)
      This sorta relates to my biggest ADHD experience..

      About 10 years ago, I used to go boy scout camp in the summer. The way the kids are supervised is that two or three dads stay for the week and watch all of the kids. Well, my dad was one of the ones there. One of the younger campers was wicked psycho, hard to control and being pumped full fo Ritalin. Well, my dad, being his self-reliant-farmboy-self, decides that this kid doesn't need those damn pills.

      It was like he went into withdrawal. Staring at shit for a full day, then normal for the rest of the week. amazing.

      when we got back, his mom saw the full bottle of pills and flipped. back on the meds he went, and psycho he stayed.

    • I myself only took Ritalin a few times, and I hated the way it affected me.

      I had a similar experience when I was in the 10th grade. At the time, I was doing horrible in school (hey, it was boring and the people there all sucked) and my divorced mother and I had a mutual hate for each other. She'd nag and yell at me constantly and I would break things. So she made me go see a psychiatrist. A bad one, at that. After about 3 hours of tests and ridiculous open-ended questions (spread out over 3 weekends) he
    • I have found that the most effective treatment is just to get outside in the fresh air and get a bit of excersize every day.

      This appears to be working for me. I've been getting out for walks every other day recently, just worked my way up to ~30 minute walks (brisk pace, keep the blood moving), and today I was able to stay focused enough to get a LOT of reading done. It's too soon to say whether this is going to be a lasting effect, but at the very least I'm getting in better physical shape. I chose ev
    • Hunters vs Farmers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Poppa ( 95105 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @01:38AM (#6230357)
      Thom Hartmann ("ADD: A Different Perception.") doesn't believe that the ADD condition is a disability.

      He believes there are two kinds of people, Hunters and Farmers. Hunters have to scan the horizon, taking in all the inputs in order to find game. Farmers plod ahead, focused on plowing their current row.

      He found a high incidence of ADD in some natives in Canada (Inuit?), a tribe that gets most of their food by hunting.

      The problem with today's education system, is that we're trying to force Hunters to be Farmers. Ritalin, an amphetamine, calms Hunters down.

      But there are many successful Hunters that don't need to conform to the Farmer world. So, the Hunter should find a career that utilizes his traits (as noted in the above URL), and he will be successful and happy.

      My son was constantly getting kicked out of daycares for being too aggressive, and when his kindergarden teacher was totally exasperated because he would never sit down, we had him diagnosed. Giving him drugs was the last thing we wanted to do, but the alternative was major damage to his self-esteem because he couldn't control himself and felt like a failure. Too much Ritalin will make a kid into a zombie, I didn't like that. But just the right amount allowed him to control himself and he was much happier.

      Now that he's in high school, he quit taking those drugs. Earlier he had switched to Adderol, but it affected his heart. Now he's trying to deal with being a Hunter. It's very challenging, he's smart and scores high but gets very low grades because homework doesn't get done.

      I know he'll be successful in whatever he decides to do. I don't consider grades to be an indicator of his future success.

  • Read (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <Rick.The.Red@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:09PM (#6229136) Journal
    "Driven to Distraction" [] by Dr. Edward Hallowell, M.D. I went to one of his lectures to learn how to help my son, who has ADHD, and learned that -- surprise! -- I have it, too. This book is a big help! Highly recommended.
    • Re:Read (Score:3, Informative)

      by dalassa ( 204012 )
      Not a surprise, there is a definate genetic linkage among family members. I was diagnosed with ADD back before they realized girls could be hyper too. The doctor started rattling off symptoms of adult ADD and my father was pegged with every single one.
  • My $600 experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thebigmacd ( 545973 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:13PM (#6229177)
    My parents paid $600 CDN to be tested for admittance to an enriched high school program. The stupid guy made me click a stupid mouse for 15 minutes every time an X showed on the screen. He then diagnosed me with acute ADHD. I don't have ADHD. For my whole life I have been good at school, been able to sit still and concentrate on things for long periods of time, etc. Tried explaining to the guy that my arm fell asleep clicking the stupid mouse.

    I also got nearly perfect on the Academy test itself.

    That said, my parents ignored the diagnosis and I plugged right along with my straight 4.0 GPA. That's my experience with ADHD.

    Oh ya, till grade 6 I did have trouble concentrating at school, but that because of the classroom being a riot of Ritalin-laced monsters. Went ot a private school for 7&8 and I got back on track for the rest of my learning career in public education.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:15PM (#6229204)
    Moderators, please refrain from spending all your points modding up every easy joke about ADHD to +5, Funny. Not only are you supporting misinformed stereotypes, you're also ignoring posts that might actually have some meaning.

    I'd also ask you to overlook lengthy posts that ask "Do you really have ADHD or do you just play too many videogames?" People, lets assume, if only for this discussion, that the person asking does, in fact, have a real psychological problem, and really is helped by medication, and isn't lazy, or possessed by demons, or resistant to alien mind control, or any of the other oddball opinions that always come up.
  • by silvaran ( 214334 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:16PM (#6229210)
    I'm going to reply to this because I don't have ADHD, rather I have a related disorder known as social anxiety, and I took interest to your mention of serotonin.

    Serotonin is a chemical that is known to calm, and SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) prevents the brain from storing serotonin (thus keeping it in circulation). I'm not sure about the chemical specifics of ritalin, but I suspect it relates to many of the other newfangled medications that are on the market. I use an SSRI to calm myself, to prevent anxiety. You may use it to calm yourself to prevent overactivity.

    All psychological disorders are related, though each has the same symptoms, they have each to varying degrees. My advice to you would be to seek a second opinion, even if you are absolutely certain that this second opinion will yield the same result.

    ADHD is overdiagnosed in children, but an adult is a different matter. I would advise you to continue the medication that works, and look towards alternative solutions while you're taking the medication. There is no shame in taking a pill every day, and therapeutic solutions will only strengthen your resolve to conquer your problem--even if you're forced to take a pill for the rest of your life.

    Do you object to having ADHD

    I object to having social anxiety as much as I object to having a thorn in my side. It's an obstacle to be overcome, and even if it can't be eliminated completely, it can be managed.

    How do you find it working in groups of people, either as the only ADHD'er there, or in a group of ADHD'ers?

    This is somewhat irrelevant to your problem. ADHD should affect you in virtually every aspect of life, regardless whether it's with a group of people or on your own. The key is to understand how your mind works, and to become so educated with respect to your subconscious thoughts that you can control them with exercises and manage them as they come. A relatively new therapeutic study deals with cognitive thinking, in that you can catch thoughts [that cause feelings] as they occur, and eventually eliminate them. These thoughts might cause you to become hyperactive (hence the 'H' in ADHD), and you really have to focus on your internal thoughts more than the results on the environment around you.

    I doubt that this advice will help you directly, but I admire your resolve in openly announcing your mental difficulties. Watching TV, I'm sure you'll notice more and more commercials regarding mental illness and the fact that it isn't extraordinary, rather it's a common problem that affects everyone, from every walk of life. My final suggestion would be to seek therapy. There's no shame in talking to someone about this, as much as there's any shame in taking medication for it. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
  • by eniacx ( 615658 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:19PM (#6229247)
    Recently I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. -- Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how this insidious disease manifests itself:

    I decided to wash my car. As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the hall table. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the trashcan under the table, and notice that the trashcan is full. So I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the trash first.

    But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the trash anyway, I may as well pay the bills first. I take m y checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go to my desk where I find the can of pop that I had been drinking. I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the pop aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over.?

    I see that the pop is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the pop, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye -- they need to be watered. I set the pop down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

    I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, we will be looking for the remote, but nobody will remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers. I splash some water on the flowers, but most of it spills on the floor.

    So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill. Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do. At the end of the day: the car isn't washed, the bills aren't paid, there is a warm can of pop sitting on the counter, the flowers aren't watered, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can't find the remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

    Then when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e- mail.

    From Neal Boortz []
  • by IgD ( 232964 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:21PM (#6229264)
    A. Either (1) or (2)
    (1) six (or more) of the following symptoms of INATTENTION have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

    (a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
    (b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
    (c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
    (d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
    (e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    (f) often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
    (g) often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
    (h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
    (i) is often forgetful in daily activities

    (2) six (or more) of the following symptoms of HYPERACTIVITY-IMPULSIVITY have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

    (a) often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
    (b) often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
    (c) often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
    (d) often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
    (e) is often "on the go" or often acts if "driven by a motor"
    (f) often talks excessively

    (g) often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
    (h) often has difficulty awaiting turn
    (i) often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

    B. Some hyperatice-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairement were present before age 7 years.

    C. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school [or work] and at home).

    D. There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

    E. The symptoms do note occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder)
    • by LoztInSpace ( 593234 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:43PM (#6229498)
      Sounds like standard behaviour for any healthy kid who's a bit bored and wants to go running around with his friends, getting covered in mud, falling out of trees etc.
      Alternatively, reading it again, it sounds more like someone who doesn't get enough exercise and enjoys sports more than office work. i.e. 99% of all office workers.
      Could it be our bodies haven't adapted to our office/TV/car dominated lifestyle?
  • by Trebonius ( 29177 ) * on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:22PM (#6229284) Homepage
    When I was first diagnosed with ADD (ADHD minus the hyperactive aspect) and put on Adderall, I was amazed to discover that it really was possible to follow the thread of an entire meeting and sit down for hours doing work that didn't absolutely fascinate me.

    Adderall is a mix of four amphetamines used to combat Attention Deficit Disorder and Narcolepsy. It was originally prescribed to the obese as a hunger suppressant under a different name. I originally started on 3 doses per day of Adderall. That was problematic, however, because I would become more forgetful as it wore off, meaning that I needed to remember to take my next dose when I was at my most forgetful. I now take the extended-release version called Adderall XR. I only take it once a day, and it's helped enormously.

    I've only been medicated for a couple of years now, so I've noticed a stark difference in my ability to function normally. Life before I was diagnosed was filled with frustration. I sometimes found it incredibly difficult to concentrate even on things that I enjoyed doing, or that I really wanted to do. My homework grades were terrible but my test scores tended to be quite good. Now, with a combination of medication and an intentional reduction of potential distractions, I can work steadily all day if I need to.

    There are drawbacks, however. It completely obliterates my appetite. I find that if I don't make an effort to eat 3 square meals a day, I will forget to eat at all. Not being one who needs to lose weight, it caused some problems in the beginning. I won't feel hungry, but I'll get very cranky, headachy, and will find it difficult to focus when I don't eat.
    I also find that I can be a little cranky in the late afternoon when I'm coming off the medication. ADD medications like Ritalin and Adderall are highly addictive, which really sucks. After taking Adderall for a couple of years now, I find that I have the attention span of a gnat on cocaine if I forget to take it.

    Do I object to having ADD? Sometimes. But when channeled correctly, it's a really amazing source of creative material. It can also be quite entertaining to my friends. I'm just really glad I'm just really glad I have some control of it now.

    Attention Deficit Disorder is hard for many people to understand. I've had people tell me to my face that ADD is a sham and that I'm just lazy. Fortunately, it's not a topic that comes up often.

    Unfortunately, I don't know much about these alternative treatments, but I'm certainly interested in learning more.
  • Newer medication (Score:3, Informative)

    by ratell ( 521728 ) <> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:24PM (#6229312)
    You could talk to your doctor about atomoxetine. It's a new drug for adhd that isn't a stimulant. It's a norepinephrine uptake inhibitor that was recently approved for the treatment of ADHD. Good Luck.
  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:25PM (#6229314) Homepage Journal
    My parents tooke me off Ritilan (sp) becuase I would just sit there and not do anything I was just too quiet and it spooked my mother..

    In school I had trouble concentrating with any destractions including the teacher so nautrally I had lower grades though I fought like hell in high school to stay on the honor roll.

    but the flipside is when something interests me I can shut everything out and pay attention it. I was great in band until I got bored and quit and I picked up my first programing language php within a relative amount of time and when I need to do something (I commonly debug others code) I can do it very effectively if not disturbed.

    ADHD is basically a two edged sword and the treatments are the same you just have to take the good with the bad.
  • Sleep patterns? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gozar ( 39392 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:27PM (#6229329) Homepage

    There is new research out dealing with ADHD and sleep:

    Sleep deprivation and ADHD []

    Sleep deprivation effects []

    Sleep deprivation may be undermining teens health []

    Other sites from Google []

  • by JeffGB ( 265543 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:31PM (#6229368)
    I like to read the following from the Jargon File: -the-Ha cker-Personality.html

    (some stuff removed)
    1994-95's fad behavioral disease was a syndrome called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), supposedly characterized by (among other things) a combination of short attention span with an ability to `hyperfocus' imaginatively on interesting tasks. In 1998-1999 another syndrome that is said to overlap with many hacker traits entered popular awareness: Asperger's syndrome (AS). This disorder is also sometimes called `high-function autism', though researchers are divided on whether AS is in fact a mild form of autism or a distinct syndrome with a different etiology. AS patients exhibit mild to severe deficits in interpreting facial and body-language cues and in modeling or empathizing with others' emotions. Though some AS patients exhibit mild retardation, others compensate for their deficits with high intelligence and analytical ability, and frequently seek out technical fields where problem-solving abilities are at a premium and people skills are relatively unimportant. Both syndromes are thought to relate to abnormalities in neurotransmitter chemistry, especially the brain's processing of serotonin.

    Many hackers have noticed that mainstream culture has shown a tendency to pathologize and medicalize normal variations in personality, especially those variations that make life more complicated for authority figures and conformists. Thus, hackers aware of the issue tend to be among those questioning whether ADD and AS actually exist; and if so whether they are really `diseases' rather than extremes of a normal genetic variation like having freckles or being able to taste DPT. In either case, they have a sneaking tendency to wonder if these syndromes are over-diagnosed and over-treated. After all, people in authority will always be inconvenienced by schoolchildren or workers or citizens who are prickly, intelligent individualists - thus, any social system that depends on authority relationships will tend to helpfully ostracize and therapize and drug such `abnormal' people until they are properly docile and stupid and `well-socialized'.

    So hackers tend to believe they have good reason for skepticism about clinical explanations of the hacker personality. That being said, most would also concede that some hacker traits coincide with indicators for ADD and AS. It is probably true that boosters of both would find a rather higher rate of clinical ADD among hackers than the supposedly mainstream-normal 10% (AS is rarer and there are not yet good estimates of incidence as of 2000).
  • by Slime-dogg ( 120473 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:33PM (#6229393) Journal

    ADHD has become an increasingly popular diagnosis, especially since it's very difficult to prove incorrect. ADHD is a relatively rare disorder, and has grown in the field to encompass both hyperativity disorder and ADD.

    I was nearly diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when I was in 8th grade. The people didn't quite realize that I was bored. I could've taught my 8th grade English class, but I'm sure that if I were taken to a psychologist that I would be diagnosed with ADHD. I was near puberty. I was mad at the world. I didn't fit in because I had a rather poor self image.

    Maybe you do have ADHD. I still find that I have trouble sitting still for more than an hour. I know that this isn't on the scale of ADHD, where they can't focus for more than 3 or 4 minutes. I do have thousands of things running through my mind, but I don't let myself get too distracted.

    As the guy on everything2 hypothesized, I believe that people are evolving. The ones who have genius intelligence, but can't quite handle it are the ones who end up with ADHD. The ones that can handle it end up being true genius (like Einstein style.)

    I have an easy time getting bored. I have an easy time getting energetic and jumping around like a hooligan. I might have good brain power, but I can only half-way handle it. Maybe God got distracted with something while writing "ADHD" into my head, therefore only giving me a semi-dose.

    Anyway, the way I handle my self-induced stress is by working out. I lift weights and do cadio. I find that if my body is tired, I have an easier time getting to sleep. I have an easier time sitting still and writing my programs.

  • by V_IL_Len ( 313878 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:35PM (#6229418)
    and the vibrance of living. It did help me focus more and be more "productive" but I wasn't terribly impressed with what I produced. A little background: I was diagnosed with ADHD "off the map" by a psychatrist at the age of 28. I have a very keen awareness of how I see/experience the world and although it is not terribly well recieved in the industrial higherarchy it beats the hell out of staring straight ahead in a daze. Over the years I have developed a lot of coping mechanisims to make it so that my way of being didn't collide with the way I should be as much as possible. Still there are times where conformity is required and conforming without medication for me is very hard. So I will spot use ritalin to get through trouble spots. I will also happen to find it a nice mixer with a couple of beers and _\|/_ ;) it's a nice trifecta cocktail. Seriously, I found using behavioral modifaction like a well organized palm pilot and a strong social support network to be an effective and preferable treatment plan for ADHD than being medicated all the time.
  • by ketan ( 3574 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:38PM (#6229448) Homepage
    The most important thing that I had to learn was that the drugs won't make you want to do things you don't want to do. You can divide tasks you currently fail at into three categories:

    1) You can't focus and stick to it.
    2) You don't really want to.
    3) You aren't capable.

    Before, I couldn't really tell the difference between the three. Part of that problem was that I was afraid to start things because I knew I couldn't follow through. It was all a muddle. And when things got tough, I'd give up. I couldn't tell whether that was because it really was too hard or because there was a threshhold of dedication that I just couldn't get over. Now, using the drugs, I have a lot more clarity. I know that if I'm capable of doing something and if I want to do it, it'll get done. That's a huge change for me. I also have a clearer understanding of what I really can do, so I know when something is just beyond my ability. The drugs have their side effects, but the clarity they have made possible is an unequivocally good thing. It also sticks with me when I'm not using them, which gives me some hope for a productive and drug-free future.
  • by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:41PM (#6229480)
    "Too many children are being labeled for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and improperly placed on psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall to be 'calmed down,' according to House testimony. Most child-health specialists agree that about 2% of schoolchildren 'are so pervasively overactive or inattentive that they are very difficult for anyone to manage.' But up to 17% of schoolchildren are being labeled for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, said Dr. William B. Carey, director of behavioral pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia." --The Washington Times - 9 Jun 2003


    David Neeleman is the CEO of JetBlue Airways. He has now been told that he has ADD. He didnâ(TM)t take drugs. I wonder where he would be today if his parents had forced Ritalin on him. Most probably not the head of a profitable airline.
    NYTimes - ADHD - Neeleman []


    "They made a list of the most common symptoms of emotional discomfiture of children; those which bother teachers and parents most, and in a stroke that could not be more devoid of science or Hippocratic motive--termed them a 'disease.' Twenty five years of research, not deserving of the term 'research.,' has failed to validate ADD/ADHD as a disease. Tragically--the "epidemic" having grown from 500 thousand in 1985 to between 5 and 7 million today--this remains the state of the 'science' of ADHD." []
  • Seriously. I have ADHD and it really sucks.

    A lot of easy jokes have been made here, and frankly they all suck. I make sure not to mention to anyone that I have ADHD unless they are a good friend or need to know because the "did you take your meds?" joke isn't just tired by this point, it's painful.

    I take Ritalin. It helps me a lot. It's the difference between holding down a good job and being unemployed and possibly even homeless. It really is that night and day. I am trying something new that can be taken along with Ritalin that might replace it, but in my all too real experience without Ritalin my life is a disorganized mess.

    I don't really have more to add, but ADHD isn't as fun as you might think. It hurts your job prospects, it hurts your social life, and it hurts any projects you try to attempt.

    On the upside, ADHD often comes with the ability to hyperfocus. I sometimes work on writing music for 8 or 9 hours at a time, completely obsessed with every minor detail, even forgetting to eat. If I could turn this on and off at the drop of a hat, I would have had a 4.0 in college. Instead I fought the ADHD like crazy and got a 3.3.

    Most of you probably don't realize that ADHD has a tight association with dysthymia, a mild but chronic depression that in and of itself is self-destructive. If you're not careful the two disorders will feed off each other.

    I'm 26 now. The Hyperactive part of the disorder mostly means that I'm a bit eccentric and excitable, where in the past it made me a social pariah. I've got a good therapist helping me leverage what advantages ADHD gives me and minimize the downsides. I'm glad I'm confronting my ADHD head on instead of dismissing it as a myth or an excuse for parents/teachers.

    I agree that it's probably overdiagnosed, but for those of us who really have it, it sucks.

    • I've never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I'd be willing to bet I'd "pass" the test -- especially if I was tested when I was younger. My parents tried to control my diet under the belief that sugars, artificial flavors/preservatives, and some other chemicals were triggers.

      Perhaps I'm lucky that I enjoy my work (technology management) so that I don't find myself getting distracted from it. I do have a difficult time paying attention to things that bore me.

      Being an ADHD technology manager can be a challeng
    • Seriously. I haven't been diagnozed, but life really sucks.

      I've had massive problems trying to concentrate on things I didn't find interesting (which included all the school subjects), I'm sometimes bad-tempered and can't handle all social situations. Sometimes I also "hyperfocus", although for only a couple of hours. I also find it difficult to sleep at decent times, and I've very seldom slept (well) enough.

      I really hurt my job prospects, my social life and the projects I attempt. Heck, I've been a com

  • by kriegsman ( 55737 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:43PM (#6229492) Homepage
    AD[H]D often confers a number of superpowers on those who have it: incredible memory for detail, ability to hyperfocus for long periods, ambidexterousness(!), and others.

    However, in adults, especially adults who were not diagnosed as children, AD[H]D often co-occurs with a pervasive (mild) clinical depression, and a tremendous dose of ego damage resulting from having been told repeatedly in myriad ways that you're "not working up to your potential". (i.e., you could be good, but instead you're being bad, and obviously it's your fault.)

    Learning to live really happily as an AD[H]D person can involve accepting all kinds of help: support from family, friends, and co-workers; psychotherapy; and medications such as Ritalin to help give the brain a more balanced level attentiveness (instead of only hyperfocused or totally scattered), and antidepressant medications (SSRIs), to help ease some of the inner self-flagellation that adult AD[H]Ders can do to themselves.

    But fundamentally, there's one big lesson you and everyone around you have to learn: you don't perceive or process the world quite the same way other people do, regardless of what you (or they) wish. Acknowledge that, and you've started down a good path: finding your superpowers, living with your weaknesses, and getting support from people around you.

    -Mark, diagnosed at age 30
  • You're Not Alone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cookiej ( 136023 ) * on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @11:43PM (#6229493)
    There are all sorts of tactics you can take. I laughingly call it my "Shiny Ball" syndrome and joke about it with people who work with me.

    But, what I've found is that an ADHD person makes an excellent "fireman." The truth is that you can sit in a room and catch a stray noise, or a grunt indicating frustration from one of your fellow employees -- and be there to help.

    Talk to your manager. If he/she is less-than-a-troll, they'll work with you to use your "gift."

    As for focus, I have gotten good at marking where I am in various projects and flitting between them without having to do a lot of ramp-up. Again, it's just adapting to the different way your brain works.

    Now mine might not be as severe as some. I know that I got through LOTR books in three days of intense reading--because it fascinated me. But give me a 60-page manual to read at a desk and it will take me weeks to plow through it.

    When learning new languages, I tend to bring the reference manual into the john with me. Laugh if you will but amazingly, it works very well. I learned C, Flash, Java, Python, PHP, piece-by-piece (ahem) using this method.

    As long as you remain productive, you're an asset to yourself and your career -- find ways to make this work for you.

    You may also find that you have a better-than-average ability to "read" people. In three other people I've met who are ADHD, we all had that in common -- my (admittedly parlor) theory is that ADHD people unconsciously pick up more of body language-type cues because they're paying attention to EVERYTHING and learn to process them at an early age...

    For fun, next time you're in a restaurant, see how many distinct conversations you can follow.

    Another thing that drives me nuts is when people in the theater are whispering to each other. They'll be a couple of rows back and it will break any chance I have of watching the movie. Of course my companions never hear a thing.
  • by camusflage ( 65105 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @12:46AM (#6229987)
    I had ADD as a kid, while my sister has ADHD to this day. I took ritalin from as young as I can remember until I was 12 (I'm 29 now, so I was on ritalin before it was 'cool'), then cylert and tofranil until I was 16, then cylert alone until I was 19. Once I hit college, I just weaned myself off of cylert over the course of three weeks (on my own, without doctors' advice..).

    Once I hit sixteen, I realized I needed to start taking steps to bring things under control myself, rather than depend upon medication for the rest of my life. I started consciously working to focus my mind, admittedly no small feet. These days, I think I overcompensated, as I have the ability to, when I need to, focus solely on one task, blocking out the need to eat, smoke, and even move, in some cases. Even though heart rate is controlled through the autonomic nervous system, with a bit of focus, I can slow my heart rate down to approx 45 bpm, even able to go down to 1 beat every 2 seconds in the extreme case.

    Personally, I don't know that ADD/ADHD really exist. I think it's kind of like saying that people with fair skin have problems with the sun. No kidding. Some minds are more frenetic than others, just as some folks' skin is lighter than others'. People with fair skin can spend time in the sun with either sunblock (drugs) or gradually building up a base tan and letting the melanin do its thing (mental control and focus).

    Learning how to harness and control the power of that frenetic mind has probably had the single most profound effect on my life of anything I've ever done. In my career as a developer, it's been invaluable for marathon coding stretches. It's also helped professionally in that there can be many thought patterns whirling around at any given time, allowing for efficient multi-tasking. I've consistently surprised my co-workers with my ability to be deep in thought working on something, while simultaneously being able to hear conversations and chime in with cogent commentary. In my personal life, it's been useful for being able to learn things, simultaneously taking in new concepts and referring to old ones to create a mental framework for how things "work" together.

    Best advice is to learn how to harness it and use it to your advantage. You may need medication while you're in that process, but once you're done, they may not be necessary anymore.
  • by KeelSpawn ( 575726 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @12:57AM (#6230077) Journal
    I'm a 16 year old and I have ADHD (without the hyperactivity though). So basically stare out at the windows and day dream, or maybe I just go blank in space. Although this is a disadvantage at school, I do the best possible by sitting WAY in the front of my classrooms. I also let my teachers know my situation. Therefore when they see me going off they woulld maybe gesture to me or walkby a put a hand on my desk for a silent signal.

    In school I'm one of the few people who makes the best multimedia presentations for school projects. I usually make incredibly creative webpages, bring my laptop the next day, and put it on a projector for the class to enjoy. It seemed to me that people with ADHD (or ADD), works much better when they have multimedia support, that means images, videos, audio, etc. Usually plain text gets me nowhere. I'd say that ADHD didn't effect my technical adversaries at all. In fact I think they're really creative.

    I attend the San Francisco School of the Arts. I major in Piano. Piano is one of the hardest subjects to study for me. Sitting down at the same place and practicing for an hour or two daily, is not an easy thing to do because it requires so much attention and concentration. So what I do is I only practice at the first 15 minutes of each session, then go do something else, then repeat the same procedure. This way I can ensure that I'm getting the most out of each session. After 15 minutes I usaully begin to focus significantly less.

    IMO, ADHD (without the hyperactivity) helped me in the arts. It has helped me develop a very passive and dreamy personality. I feel that this kind of personality plays a big role in studying the arts (Piano, in this case). ADHD has also helped me develop a creative mind for making webpages, multimedia presentations, and whatnot. Teachers and the principal have always enjoyed my web presentations, and the principal have decided that I can take over the school's website starting next year, with a few assistants.

    For medicine, I have been taking both of these seperately:

    *Dexedrine 10mg
    *Dextroamphetamine 5mg

    Initially, for the 5mg tablet, I've experienced some mood changes. I could feel the "ups" and "downs" quite significantly. When the medicine wore off I would suddenly more relaxed and in a more cheery mood. For the 10mg tablet, it made me even more sleepy at times, but it generally gave me a longer, more expanded time for focusing, at the scrafice of a direct focus (which is what the 5mg tablet does). I've talked with my doctor and since 3 months ago I've been taking the 10mg in the morning, and the 5mg afternoon, for my arts. (We have academics in the morning, and the arts during the afternoon). This has worked quite well.

    But now here's the interesting part: My parents and I have decided to give a try at acupuncture. We believe that blood-flow plays a vital role in giving attention and concentration. Acupuncture can make sure the important parts of my body are well stimlated, and hopefully blood will travel through my body and into my brain more regularly.
    Also I've found that doing excercise really helps the concentration. Aside from the fact that it pumps out adreneline, it puts your mind off to your physical activities for a change. When your mind is done with controlling your blood flood and so on, it's then completely ready to switch back to working anything mentally (especially something that needs sustained focus, like practicing piano, coding, etc.)

    Well that's it for now. Just my two pesos.

  • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @01:11AM (#6230193)
    I am being sincere when I say that I have much respect for everyone here. I am not suggesting that the "condition" of ADD or ADHD, OCD, RAD and all the other "diseases" and "disorders" do not exist. The circumstances that these conditions describe do obviously exist. However, I take offense to the industry that has cropped up to take advantage of people who are troubled, and promote this ideal that there is some sort of solution that more often than not, involves the medical/theraputical/pharmacological equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme.

    What we are talking about, in essence, with the exception of extreme cases where people have very serious, identifiable physical handicaps, is a burgeoning new industry which revolves around the selling of drugs to alter peoples' personalities, and usually to just make them non-uppity so they fall into line like everyone else and don't make waves.

    Take RAD for instance: Reactive Attachment Disorder. A psychological "condition" where people who have come from backgrounds of trauma, abuse or abandonment have trouble getting close to others. The same thing for ADD. It's a behavioral anomoly, but it's only really an anomoly by comparison to what is considered a social norm, so it's arguable as to whether or not anyone is ultimately "afflicted" or they're merely guilty of being different from those around them.

    Do these issues need to be treated? Sure. But the way in which they are being treated, especially with drugs, for most people, exacerbates the condition and makes it worse.

    The end result is that society pushes people who are different into little categories in order to explain why they are disappointing, unproductive, unusual, etc. Rather than taking some time to understand a person, let's just call him ADD and pop a pill in his mouth. What kind of goddam treatment is that?

    Regarding ADD and its various spin-offs, I'd bet good money you can find a solid correllation between people diagnosed with ADD and being put on medication and: 1. Crappy, self-absorbed parents who would rather give their kid a pill or send him to a psychologist than actually sit down with him and take some time to understand his issues; 2. People who grew up with a very low amount of physical activity during formative developmental periods, and 3. children who were weaned on excessive amounts of television, video games and other forms of hyperactive sensory bombardment.

    Especially regarding ADD. Who the fuck isn't going to have a short attention span when they spend X hours a day watching television or playing games, which nowadays are so amazingly explosive, redundant and senationalized in their presentation of information, it's obvious the media has the capacity to desensitize people to the many non-obnoxious nuances of communication.... THIS is the source of ADD.

    I read an article the other day from a psychology publication that stated that people nowadays are so bombarded with redundant soundbytes of information, it now takes 6-7 transmissions of the same advertising message to "stick" in a person's head. And every day it gets worse.

    Put down the controller. Pull out the GTA cartridge, get off your ass and go out and ride your skateboard... Get physically active; lay off caffeine; make an effort to alter your normal behavior via normal means! Stop going from high speed to sedating yourself before you go to sleep. Before we had mass-obnoxious-neuron-sucking media, humans got along well and had plenty to do. Our technology is turning newer generations into epileptic zombies.

    Our brains are incredibly powerful instruments. They get used to things; chemicals we put in our bodies; stimuli we are exposed to. If you sit there for hours a day being bombarded with little soundbytes, then unless your boss is wearing a flat panel LCD screen around his neck with the NASDAQ scrolling off it, and flailing dramatically as he talks, you're probably somewhat board with the dullness of the interaction.

    Who's fault is that? The
  • by Nihilanth ( 470467 ) <<moc.loa> <ta> <2evawsoahc>> on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @02:07AM (#6230555)
    Two words: Biofeedback Therapy. Allopathic Medicine has been the hard rule in the states for a long time, but the gap has been closing in the recent decades.

    The kind of biofeedback therapy i'm thinking of is the kind where a computer accepts input from a crown of electrodes that measure the electromagnetic fields in the brain, interpereting the data in such a way as to allow it to use the input as the inputs for game-like tasks that train you to actually correct problems like bipolar disorder and ADHD not by adding chemicals to the stews in our brains, but rather approaching it from a cognative angle, perhaps analogous to exersizing a muscle.

    These same tools were developed to study the effect of yogic meditation on the brain, and studies that used this technology in conjunction with yoga training found that similar mindstates could be acheived in a fraction of the time with the neural feedback provided by a computer (that is, giving you visual and auditory feedback of yoru current brain state, allowing you to consciously change it).

    This may sound very blue-sky, but my younger sister has been undergoing biofeedback therapy administered by a holistic doctor for a condition that hasn't even been completely diagnosed by several traditional psychologists, ideas ranging from bipolar disorder, manic depressive, ADHD, they haven't really decided yet. Since she started the therapy, however, she's much improved.

    To help further clarify what i'm talking about and perhaps provide further information for the interested, one computer program that she used in therapy displayed three rocket ships on the screen. She was told that the left-hand rocket represented something like being bored and daydreamy, and the right-hand rocket represented something like hyperactivity and excitement, with the middle rocket ship representing Focus. The computer program is calibrated much like a lie-detector test, and the computer will reward a shift in her brain state towards Focused Attention with the graphical representation of the middle rocket ship rising, with similar reactions in the other two ships when slips into the other two brain states are detected by the electrodes on her head.

    She can play pacman without touching a physical controller, after calibrating the software correctly. Her current exersizes with the gear, i beleive, are simply transcendental meditation rouines aided by the biofeedback software. I'm pretty sure i saw a getup like this pilot a flight sim (without a controller) back in college. This is a legitimate field of study, folks.

    The hardware and software (i dont know if its exactly what my sister uses, but its damn close) can be found at, and even includes a midi-mapper interface for the brainwave interpreter (as well as some games and i think a development kit)!

    Before I get any replies of this nature, I'm not entirely in the loop with what my sister's current scholastic/health situation is, but I -do- know that my mother isn't disregarding or ignoring the help of traditional psychologists or allopathic doctors, but from what i can tell, has just sought out options for treatment that don't involve drugging her up (not that i'm opposed to recreational drugging, just habitual drugging).

    I, for one, equate the modern condition of psychopharmacy to be in the same state as surgery in the dark ages. I have several examples of how this is so and why, but i think this post has gone on quite long enough anyway.
  • by chriss ( 26574 ) <> on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @03:01AM (#6230809) Homepage

    Since I never even take aspirin and already had to live with AHDH for 29 years before I even realized there was a name for my behavior and had arranged with a more or less fitting lifestyle, I had/have strong resentments against taking any drugs. To handle some of the problems I use some of the following tricks:

    • use external frameworks: I've learned that I am ways (10-20 times) more efficient when I have to go to the office than when working at home without any fixed schedule. Main reasons seem to be:
      • starts at a specific time (not 9PM, so no I'll just finish this first till late night)
      • makes it impossible to just walk around and follow any distractions (someone would notice)
      • stops at a specific time (so it's more difficult to break your own schedule or to tell yourself at 3AM you still got plenty of time to start)

      Since I started being self-employed (again) I try to simulate the office.

      • I start at 10am, even if I only got three hours of sleep
      • I remove the name server from /etc/resolv.conf in the morning, so I can only reach my local machines and some that are noted in /etc/hosts (my own servers, etc.) No more accidental surfing.
      • I try to keep interesting stuff off my desk
      • I keep track on my time in OpenOffice, so I always know whether I already have met my targets or if I have spend hour researching some of the infinite interesting side branches again. If the spread sheet would not remind me, I would have forgotten what I did all day by evening.
      • I make a lot of short term contracts with other people, so I have to report my own progress on at least a weekly basis
      • In a case of massive desperation I have tied myself to the chair (literally). You would be astonished how often I found myself in the other room wondering how the hell I got there again and again and again.
    • involve other people: Over time I learned that I can really concentrate to save somebody else's ass, but not mine. So I try to make sure to work with other people, because the moral pressure to not let them down will somewhat compensate my lack of staying with the priorities. If they are involved actively this also gives me some feedback I urgently need to not forget what I'm trying to do in the first place. I also told everybody I know what I'm trying to achieve, so everybody keeps asking how it's actually working out, also keeping me on track.
    • caffeine: I dislike coffee, so it's about 3l of Coke per day. To save my weight and teeth I switched to Coke light (hey, you can get used to anything), now my stomach is troubling me. You pay a price.
    • choice of job: I'm excellent at finding (keys as well as solutions) in a minimum of time and miserable with long term projects. I can handle very complex situations in my head, but never make a small step for a long term solution. This works just fine for trouble shooting, so I was a quite successful sysadmin as long as things where on fire (I quit when everything is running again) as well as as a programmer (as long as the time lines where impossible). What I'm best at is technical consulting for nearly doomed projects, where I can play all my magic and improvise a solution in a short time on a very high adrenaline level. Never hire me for something that takes more than eight weeks.
    • learning: Maybe other people can learn Python or Ruby in two days, but I can not. I can learn a lot about Python, Zope, WebDAV, XML-RPC, XQL, bioinformatics, BLAST, MPI, proteomics, NUMA, Chinese grammar, game physics, google ranking, CSS, ARM etc. in one day, but not Python alone in two. So I've basically given up on jobs that demand systematic learning of a specific topic in a short term, instead I give in to being an info junkie and base my consulting on my ability to connect hundreds of weird topics with each other t
  • by Martin Spamer ( 244245 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @07:21AM (#6231636) Homepage Journal

    I exhibits most of the diagnostic indicators of ADHD and/or Autism, but I've never been 'diagnosed' and firmly reject the premise these are a disability or disease. I am poor at sport and empathic stuff, I'm constantly told I lack focus and concentration yet I know I am quite capable of focusing and concentration on something I find interesting and challenging for much longer than 'normal' people.

    The real question should what is 'normal' and why should everybody be 'normal'. When any ability, attribute or skill of people is measured some people must end up on the extremes of the curve, this is entirely normal and is called a normal distribution.

    Some people are good at sport, some people are poor at sport.
    Some people are high EQ, some people are low EQ.
    Some people are high IQ, some people are low IQ.

    My special abilities allow me to conceive unusually and innovative solutions to problems, I can think around a problem in a way that 'normal' people are unable to even contemplate because they think in what I see as simplistic linear manner. I think this makes me and other similar people gifted not disabled.

    I think you should read the THE EVIL PRACTICE OF NARCOTHERAPY FOR ATTENTION DEFICIT by Dr. David Keirsey []. It may change the way you think about yourself.

    You should also know that many of the greatest minds in history have exhibited the same symptoms as what is now called ADHD and/or Autism, Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, Isambard Brunel, Alexander Graham Bell; to name four.

    There are many more here [].

    Finally two rhetorical questions.

    Why are so many supposed 'normal' people prepared to label these abilities a disease or disability that must have a cause ? Many of these same people ascribe ADHD and/or Autism to MMR (or mercury in vaccines) because if it is a disease or disability it must have a cause. These 'normal' people are *supposed* to be empathic, yet give little consideration to our feelings in fact they do this despite our feels or thought on this subject. I think they should focus more effort into understanding that labelling.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @07:42AM (#6231716) Homepage Journal
    99% of the cases of this being diagnosed is fake.

    The entire thing was created as a revenue stream for the doctors and drug companies, especially in children.

    That's why they say 90% of kids have it.. bah they are just normal kids. The definition of normal is what they are trying to change.

  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @07:52AM (#6231774) Homepage
    First off, I am ADHD but manage it quite well. In my opinion, many diseases like diabetes, hypoglycemia, ADHD, and certain mental illnesses are diet and lifestyle related. Note: I said "related" and not "caused".


    We live in a society where the docs tell you, "You aren't responsible for your disease and condition, just take this magic pill."

    Tell me about your diet. Is it filled with sugar, carbs, and caffene? How regularly do you eat (3 meals per day)? Also, have you ever had your blood sugar checked?

    Tell me about your excercise routine. Do you excercise daily, infrquently, or never?

    What has helped me is:
    1. Laying off the caffene, only one shot in the morning.
    2. Eating well balanced meals that aren't filled with sugar and carbs at regularly scheduled times. I even eat Oatmeal for breakfast everyday now.
    3. Daily excercise.

    Don't lose heart. If you can do it for 20 days you can make something a habit/lifesytle change.

    As for ADHD in children, have you visited a school lately? Schools now come equipped with vending machines and the Pop companies (coke/pepsi) give some of the profits back to the school. Where has common sense gone? Give kids stimulants and empty calories like pop and potato chips then expect them to behave and perform well? Whaaaaaa?

    Note: I do believe that there are people with legitimate brain chemistry problems. However the vast majority of people just need to eat right, excercise, and work on some self discipline and they will be fine. Check for these books..

    The Myth of ADHD and Other Learning Disabilities. Parenting Without Ritalin.
    The A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. Diet! Updated

    And remember, you are responsible for you. You have a disorder. You are NOT this disorder. Also there are no "silver bullets". No magic pills or herbs that will magically cure. However, I do get daily emails from some guys telling me that have an ancient formula to make my "package" larger. :)

    Good Luck!

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351